News & Success Stories

Recognized Partners across San Diego County are the driving force behind the strength, reach and impact of the Live Well San Diego vision. Read their inspiring success stories below.

'Fostering Academic Success in Education' Program Helps Foster Youths Realize Dreams

Post Date:09/05/2023 5:04 PM

Graduate of program

Elisabeth Handley, Public Outreach Specialist, County of San Diego Child and Family Well-Being

Fostering Academic Success in Education began in 2020 as a three-year pilot program that aimed to support students in foster care to achieve educational success in high school, postsecondary education and beyond. It is designed to promote a proactive engagement of partnering agencies, schools and community organizations to support youth and their families in their communities. 

Fostering Academic Success in Education has built a strong collaborative infrastructure and well-coordinated services among community partners such as the San Diego Office of Education, Sweetwater Union High School District, Escondido Union High School District, Escondido Unified and Union School Districts, and Promises2Kids

“The program cares about me and my future and will help me achieve my dream of becoming an engineer.”
-Program member

In June 2020, the Fostering Academic Success in Education program began in two schools with 20 students. As of June 2023, it has expanded to 17 schools and is now serving over 50 students. This fall, it will be in 23 schools serving more than 70 youth. It is no longer a pilot program, but one with no end date.

Foster youth endure multiple adverse childhood experiences that can create obstacles to educational achievement. Compared to youth without foster care experiences in California, foster youth are grossly underperforming academically. Research indicates that youth in foster care are more likely than their non-foster care peers to repeat a grade, perform lower on standardized tests, or drop out of school. Many foster youth change schools far too often as they change foster care placements, and school changes hinder academic achievement.

Pilot research data indicates that youth in the Fostering Academic Success in Education program experience fewer placement changes, which supports academic success. The program also assists youth with filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for financial aid, and applying for college or preparing for a career path.

The Fostering Academic Success in Education program has undergone an evaluation with collected data such as GPA, attendance, self-efficacy measures, and youths’ perception of their ability to manage mental health services and supports over time. In the 2022-2023 school year, 86% of students had a significant increase in their GPA.  Youths in the program also had fewer unexcused absences from semester one to semester two. The program also had a 100% graduation rate in the school year of 2022-2023. As one service provider shared: 

 “Having a person oversee students’ education, meet with them on a weekly basis and build rapport,  motivates students to improve their grades and focus on their educational goals.”
 -Fostering Academic Success in Education school site administration

Fostering Academic Success in Education is excited to continue collaborating with community partners, the resource parent community, and youth with foster care experiences to provide a solid support network with resources for youths to obtain the highest level of academic success. Through the program, dedicated stakeholders and community partners have made it possible for our foster youth to thrive and achieve their academic goals and dreams. The program is changing student outcomes and perspectives through their adverse challenges one day at a time.

“I love my social worker and want to succeed and go to a four-year university," said one student. "Before, I didn't think I could. Now I know there is a lot of help for students like me.”

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